Book Review: Contenders by Marc Newman

(Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book. Special thanks to Marc Newman for the book.)

Marlon Brando famously uttered the line “I coulda been a contender!” in the filmĀ On the Waterfront. Brando played Terry Malloy, a boxer with a promising future who was asked to throw a fight so that a mob boss could win money by betting against him. Because of that thrown fight, Terry was left wondering what could have been — he could have been somebody if not for that thrown fight. The abortion discussion can often feel like a losing battle. We have the media against us, we have the culture against us, and we have churches against us either in open support or tacit support by keeping quiet about children made in God’s image being led to the slaughter. But Marc Newman has written a book which not only goes over how to respond to the various arguments you’re likely to hear from pro-choice advocates, but also how pro-life people can equip themselves depending on their calling to make a greater impact for life.

Marc is a nationally-recognized communicator and trainer of speakers. He draws on his numerous years of education and training in the process of this book. He outlines the problem that pro-life people face when we decide to speak out about abortion but he also provides solutions. He provides a way forward for people who are new to the movement as well as long-time veterans. I’ll briefly cover the contents of the book but I don’t want to give too much away. It’s very readable, written in a conversational style and peppered with personal stories. And most importantly, very few typos. Compared to some of the books I’ve read and reviewed recently, the typos were almost non-existent.

The book is laid out in a logical progression with each chapter flowing seamlessly into the next. Part One of the book is called What We’re Up Against and consists of four chapters. The most helpful part of the first chapter is in drawing parallels between abortion and worship of the pagan god Molech. Ancient pagans would sacrifice their children to the god Molech for the promise of a better life and that’s what abortion providers promise today. Modern abortion providers are the priests of Molech, who will kill your children for a fee so you can have the life you want to have. The next two chapters deal with reasons Christians don’t speak up against abortion and then systematically dismantles each reason. Especially helpful is the discussion on why pastors don’t preach on abortion from the pulpit. Avoiding the topic can feel like an act of love, but in reality it harms the very souls that the pastor or priest is called to minister to. Part One finishes with some warnings about what to expect when you do start to speak out against abortion.

Part Two deals with the various arguments you are likely to encounter in your discussions and the tactics taken by pro-choice people to attempt to save their pro-abortion stance when you refute their arguments. Marc talks about bodily rights and personhood arguments, as well as the easier to answer arguments that pro-choice people throw at you in an attempt to get you to stop defending the unborn. The arguments Marc expounds are those most often defended by the average pro-choice advocate. It’s especially important to understand the mindset and tactics of your interlocutor, so the discussion on how pro-choice people move from argument to argument and how to keep them from returning to refuted arguments will help your persuasiveness when addressing these arguments.

Part Three is where Marc offers helpful suggestions to improve persuasiveness. The first two parts of the book would be good enough to help pro-life advocates who are shy about getting into arguments improve their confidence. But this last part goes even further. He provides helpful guidelines for how to put a pro-life presentation together, depending on how long you have to speak. He even provides helpful advice to pastors on how to address abortion from the pulpit and how to partner with Pregnancy Care Centers (PCCs) to ensure that women and men who have been hurt by abortion find the maximal amount of healing they can from their shepherd (the pastor).

As far as who to recommend this book to, I’m sure non-religious pro-life people can get something out of this book, especially regarding the discussions on pro-choice arguments and how to respond to them. But this is a book primarily aimed at a Christian audience and no matter what your calling, whether it be to engage intellectually, to preach to a congregation, to speak to a crowd, or to run a PCC, this book has something for you. This is a book that every Christian pro-life advocate should have on his bookshelf. With this book in your arsenal, you no longer have to lament what could have been, like Terry Malloy. With this book, you can be a contender.

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